What amount of RAM and what amount of SSD?

Actually, keep an eye out for 16” refurbs. Some of the machines that end up in the refurb store are essentially new machines that were returned within the 14-day return window.


16" with 32G RAM and 1TB SSD will be a great bang for your buck for many years to come. As others have noted, you can try holding out for a 16" refurb, but those usually don’t start popping up until ~2-3 months after release.

I think 512 would be tight, unless you don’t store any media on your device. Yes, you can certainly do external, but honestly it’s always a hassle to have worry about one more thing and it dangling around especially if you’re traveling frequently (of course this is moot if it’s already part of your workflow).

1 Like

As I say and for people’s interest as we go along the years: I intend to keep mine for a decade if I can, that is partly why I am going iMac. I will keep a long term eye on this post, see what happens. Oh and yes, I think MPU will still be going then as will Apple. I doubt if Facebook will be or Twitter and the web will be very different. Us guys and gals here will float though, I am quite sure.

I am not tjluoma (sorry), but if you’re comfortable with it, I would get the minimum RAM and upgrade it to 32 GB with some OWC RAM. It will be MUCH cheaper, and they have a lifetime warranty (which Siracusa has certainly taken advantage of). If for whatever reason you ever need Apple to service the computer, you can just swap the original RAM back in to be extra sure they don’t complain.

(I believe you can only do this with the 27″ iMac, because the 21″ doesn’t have a RAM door.)

If you don’t want to deal with swapping the RAM out, I think you can get by with 16 GB for ten years, but keep in mind that macOS will use like more resources over time as technology advances. And of course, websites will also keep using more and more resources over time. (Just look at how much the AirPods Pro page lags on a slightly older computer.)

If you have the budget for it, I’d go for 32 GB, even though it’s unquestionably overkill right now.

1 Like

I am very glad to find this excellent discussion. My girlfriend is looking to upgrade to the new 16-inch MacBook Pro and we are wondering what specs to get. She is a graphic designer and mainly uses Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

We would like to get a Mac that will work well for the next 4-5 years. She thinks that 512GB of storage would be sufficient for her as she can archive older projects on an external drive. I thought that 32GB of RAM would be good to future proof the machine, especially since the RAM is no longer user replaceable. The base CPU config seems fine to me but I would like to know what you guys think.

I am a little confused about the Graphics option. Would the base config (AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory) be sufficient for her needs or should we consider the 5500M with 4GB or 8GB of memory? She doesn’t do any video editing but, as mentioned earlier, does work a lot on the Adobe creative apps.

I look forward to the suggestions here and on finally getting the Mac in the very near future!

For 4–5 years, 32 GB RAM would be appropriate. As a design student, I’m getting by with 16 GB with no problems using Adobe CC, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to last me 4–5 years.

If she doesn’t do much video editing or animation, I don’t see the need to upgrade the CPU. The base CPU will handle light video and animation perfectly fine, and if she needs more power, she’ll know she needs it.

I wouldn’t bother upgrading the GPU at all. Without an NVIDIA graphics card, the GPU Preview in Illustrator and InDesign is actually worse than the CPU Preview. I’m fairly certain Adobe doesn’t even bother optimising for GPUs on Mac (even internal ones), and I don’t see that changing meaningfully in the next 5 years.

1 Like

Thanks the point about websites using more RAM was a good one. Very useful point. I ask others to be reminded of that. I notice today actually how ‘busy’ one of my entertainment websites is. Really useful point, thanks again @jaskfla
I will point out, some folk now keep a sort of running eye on each other here, that my use is, in modern terms, quite light. Professionally, which is why I have a Mac really, people would be surprised at how little power I need. My whole life’s work can fit on a 16GB thumb drive and then some. For some folk that isn’t even a morning’s work I know. I remember when we started on those punch cards!

1 Like

I couldn’t agree more. I’m in charge of buying computers for our organization and there’s not a person there who needs more than 8GB of RAM. We’re always more interested in maximizing the hard drive capacity since you can’t change it later. I know you can’t change the RAM either, but 8GB will work for almost everyone.

FWIW I have a 2010 iMac that’s fine for academic work, with 12 GB RAM (I forget why - I must have only upgraded one bank at some point) and built in 256 GB SSD (replaced original HD) and a 2TB spinning drive where the DVD used to be. The only reasons i’d expect to upgrade soon is the non-retina screen and/or if some really great software update comes out that won’t run on high sierra. But your goal of having an imac last 10 years is totally feasible imho.

1 Like

You must have some very light workloads. I fill up 8GB with just a few browser tabs, Mail, Word, Calendar, Dropbox, and Finder running at relative idle.


That just means the OS is managing memory

1 Like

I didn’t even know that. It makes sense though and is very useful to know.

Are those browser tabs in Chrome or Safari?

As @dfay mentioned, having your RAM “full” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I think it’s the swap file that tends to be the issue, and that is even less of an issue with SSDs… although it’s always best to avoid swap if you can.

16 GB right now feels like a little bit of future proofing. I think in 2-3 years it will seem like baseline.


See this is why fora like this one are so useful. Some of this under the hood stuff is so useful to some of us, who though we know a lot, don’t know electronics and hardware stuff. I am a good example. Fortunately for me, I have never tried to measure my RAM, everything works fine, sometimes 16 tabs on Safari: if I had I might have though I needed more when I didn’t. It is a really important thing to know about RAM and hardly anybody does. I have 16GB mind you.

1 Like

Yeah @tjluoma like they used to say in my old country. “Grandad insists that appliance plugs be left in all the sockets on the farm, he doesn’t want the expensive electricity to leak out all over the place”


I just hopped on a call with Apple and he said unless I was doing heavy video the 4GB for memory was great. Hope this helps!


Thanks a lot @Chicksinger. That’s very kind and helpful of you! You and @jaskfla have saved me a lot of money!

We just bought a 27” w/ 8GB RAM and added 32GB from OWC. It was easy, so now we have 40GB of RAM for less than $100. Much cheaper than Apple and it took me 5 minutes or less. We also were able to swap out the keyboard for a magic keyboard with Num pad right at the store and just pay the difference. It cost me $20 to get the number pad keyboard. I thought that was really great. I was prepared to spend the $129 to get the magic keyboard with number pad.


I completely understand your desire to save money by purchasing a refurbished computer, however here are a couple of things to consider:

  1. Numerous design/engineering problems in the 2016-2018 MacBook Pro models - most notably the now “infamous” butterfly keyboard problems…but also display cable failure and case swelling due to battery issues. Also, poor thermal cooling on these models limits getting peak performance from high-end processors.
  2. Even if refurbished, unless you buy a pre-2016 laptop, the design problems mentioned above make these computers questionable at best if you want to keep it for many years.

Personally, I bought a 2018 MacBook Pro which I am now selling and replacing with a 2019 16” MacBook Pro…but not for the larger display (which really isn’t a huge difference). Rather, it is due to the design improvements Apple has included throughout this machine:

  1. Better thermal cooling system
  2. Better graphics availability
  3. The vastly improved keyboard design - both mechanically (with a return to a modified scissor switch mechanism) and usability (with the addition of the physical esc key and return to the inverted “T” arrow key layout.

Heat is the biggest enemy of any electronic component over time. For long term reliability, cooling is essential! And what can I say about the keyboard issues that hasn’t been said (ad nauseam) before? Do an internet search on ‘Apple butterfly keyboard’ and you will find more information than you ever cared to know!

So this was a costly buying mistake for me. I hope I can save you from making a similar one. Had I known at the time I bought my 2018 model that this new design was going to address all of these issues I would have limped along for a while longer with my old PC laptop. But while a “new 16 inch” display was in the rumor mill at that time, all of the technical issues I really cared about were not being discussed very much at all. So I figured I would just have to make do with the inferior design of the 2018 model and HOPE for the best.

Not a full year later, we have the vastly improved late-2019 16” MacBook Pro. Interestingly, Apple has kept the same baseline pricing they were offering on the previous (and now discontinued) 2018 15” model.

So, if you buy a new laptop, this is a “np-brained” decision. Your choice will be whether the cost savings of an earlier, refurbished model is worth the risk you will have with the design problems. In full disclosure, many people (myself included) have had no problems thus far with any of these issues. I do have a different problem with two of my four Thunderbolt 3 ports where the ports will not allow me to fully seat my devices. So my model still needs to be repaired…but not for any of the “headline” issues.

As far as your specs go, I like the future-proofing that 32 GB of RAM offers you. Also, for professional editing applications it certainly won’t hurt either.

Storage size is really a personal thing. How much content do you create? Do you want to keep everything on your local drive or are you okay with off-loading data you don’t need for current work to external or cloud storage devices? In most personal computing use cases, a 1 TB drive should be more than adequate, but I have many photography friends who shoot thousands of images a month and would have no trouble at all inundating even a 4 TB drive within a year if they kept every image stored on it.

Long story short…it’s up to you and the way you feel most comfortable working - and, of course, what you can afford! Keep in mind though, the larger the drive is in your machine, larger and more expensive backup drives or other media will be required when that drive gets near capacity.

Good luck and happy shopping! Please share with us what you end up purchasing!


That’s awesome…and a great way to go if you have a desktop Mac. Unfortunately the OP is looking for a laptop and you can not upgrade the RAM on the MacBook Pro computers.